Eight years in, and Flamenco Arts Festival founders and organizers Alberto Pizano and Vibiana have struck the sweet spot of performing arts programming. At the helm of one of the nation’s few annual flamenco festivals and the first in California, they attract world-class artists to a discerning audience. The performers they have brought to the Lobero stage since 2000-among them Eva Yerbabuena, Cristina Hoyos, Rafael Campallo, and Israel and Pastora Galv¡n-represent the most exciting and accomplished contemporary Spanish flamenco artists. Contemporary flamenco’s increasing popularity in Southern California is a tribute not only to this region’s Hispanic cultural legacy, but also to the Pizanos’ commitment to programming the highest quality work they can find.
This year the festival showcases Javier Bar³n, the master bailaor raised in the flamenco culture of Seville and trained in Madrid, where other forms of classical and contemporary dance made a lasting impact on his style. Despite mixed influences, the purity of his flamenco is a matter of great pride, as is the centrality of the musicians to the work. Speaking through a translator from his studio in Seville, Bar³n talked about his show, Dos Voces para un Baile, and about the privilege of performing for an American audience.
Flamenco Arts Festival
- When: Saturday, September 29, 2007, 8 p.m.
- Where: Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara, CA
- Cost: $38 - $56
- Age limit: Not available
What are the differences between flamenco in Seville and in Madrid? It’s totally another school, with a different way to play the guitar, to sing, and to dance. I was born and raised in Seville, but I went to Madrid for about 10 years and in those years I danced in a different way, with a new type of music. In Seville, there is more improvisation, and in Madrid, it’s more technical. In Madrid, I danced with the Ballet Nacional de Espa±a, so I trained in not only flamenco, but also ballet, classical Spanish dance, choreography, scenography, and makeup. I began my training in Madrid, really, but my desire was always to come back to my roots. But when I came home to Seville for a very famous flamenco competition called the Giraldillo a la Maestr-a, nobody knew I was from Seville. I won that competition.
The show I am bringing to Santa Barbara does not represent the two schools separately, but together, because I am a product of both. To dance the way I do, I had to study in both places.
Tell me about the show you’ll be doing in Santa Barbara, Dos Voces para un Baile. The idea was to do a piece based on my own artistic life, representing the two eras, and the musicians I have worked with. It’s a small show but at the same time a big show. We have no percussion, only two guitars, two cantares [singers], and two palmas [clappers], and in this way the show looks back to classic, pure flamenco. The percussion and other instruments you sometimes hear in other flamenco shows are not traditional. I worked only with the basics, so this show is very direct. At the same time, it’s also a big musical work. There are 23 types of rhythm in the show, and no interruptions, which is difficult and magical at the same time.